Saturday, May 31, 2008

Pilgrimage 2008 to Penrhys on the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Our Lady of Penrhys looks over the mountains and hills of Wales.This shrine was Mediaeval, and an old British shrine, with healing properties. It used to belong to and be serviced with priests by the monks of Llantarnam Abbey. Nuns now reside in the Abbey (The Sisters of St Joseph of Annecy) and they were represented in the pilgrimage, plus sisters of Mother Theresa's Missionaries of Charities. This Pilgrimage is a very old and ancient one.




We set off

We set off at nine in the morning and drove down the m50 towards Abergavenny. The sun streamed down and the trees on wither side of the motorway were fully green with allsorts of blossoms. We reached Abergavenny Priory by eleven and had a cup of tea in the Angel.We picked up our son at the station and then set of down the Heads of the Valleys Road towards Merthyr. At the turn off to Aberdare, we started off steeply up the mountain road and very quickly were right at the top of the mountains, going around very tight bends.There is something very exhilarating about being on top of a mountain-it is like being on top of the world!

Arrival at Penrhys

Eventually reached the very top, when we got to Penrhys we took our seats. We were quite early so we did have a picnic and then got ready for the afternoon. And what a wonderful afternoon it was. Residents of Penrhys put up several large marquees and sold various things to offset costs. There was tea, there were cakes and sandwiches for tea afterwards. The Intention of the Pilgrimage

To ask Our Lady of Penrhys for the return home of fallen away and lapsed Catholics.As the pilgrimage has been renewed, so may the faith of all her children to ome Home.

The Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary


Laurence O’Leary was the organiser. Speaking to him afterwards, it seemed he was asked by the Holy Virgin whilst on pilgrimage to Medugorje to reinstate the pilgrimage to Penrhys, so that pilgrims return and give her honour.He introduced Theresa and all the pilgrims-about 500 recited the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. I have to say it was a rare treat. As the afternoon wore on , the voices echoed around the valley and as Laurence asked-‘Did you see all the angels around her?’ The atmosphere was so silent you could hear a pin drop. The silence and concentration of the Faithful was really charged with prayer.

A Prayer to the Holy and Undivided Trinity for the Consecration of Wales

A Prayer for the Consecration of Wales to the Immaculate Heart of Mary at Penrhys was recited by all present and addressed to the most Holy and Blessed Trinity. Most Holy Trinity,Our Father in Heaven, who chose Mary as the fairest of your daughters , Holy Spirit who chose Mary as your Spouse,God the Son who chose Mary as your Mother, in union with Mary, we adore your majesty and acknowledge your supreme, eternal authority. Most Holy Trinity, we place Wales in the hands of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in order that she present our country of Wales to you. Through her, we wish to thank you for our faith in this land, through the intercession of Mary, grant us peace in our families and peace in the world. Protect the family life of the nation. Guard the precious gift of religious vocations and protect our priests through the intercession of our Mother. Have mercy on the unborn, sick, elderly and disabled, the poor, the tempted, upon sinners, and all who are in need. Mary, Immaculate Virgin, our Mother, Our Lady of Penrhys , we invoke you and give you our country and ourselves to your Immaculate Heart.

The Procession

Some of the pictures above show the lines forming to walk up the mountain to form the Blessed Sacrament Procession. They are not empty seats! There were none! The Procession came down the Hill from the building of the Arts Centre to the singing of Faith of Our Fathers.

Faith of our fathers, living still,
In spite of dungeon fire and sword
O how our hearts beat high with joy!
Whene’er we hear that glorious Word!
Faith of Our Fathers! Holy Faith!
We will be true to thee till death
!

The canopy was held over Bishop Daniel and the priests as they arrived proceeded by deacons and altar servers and knelt before the statue, and table which was dripping with flowers and candlesticks and candles and in the centre the Monstrance containing the Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ.The Faithful sang the O Salutaris and Tantum Ergo. There followed the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Holy Name.

The Homily

(Catch it on P The Homily by Bishop Daniel concerned the Faith and the responsibility of all to evangelise fearlessly and openly and witness to the faith. It was moving and the whole homily can be heard on the Podcast of the Pilgrimage of Our Lady of Penrhys.If you have not got iTunes you can click on the link in the blog.Otherwise just type maryinmonmouth into the iTunes store window and it will come into your computer. There followed the prayer of St Michael, Archangel for Wales and this prayer:

Almighty God Who in Thine infinite goodness Has sent Thine only begotten Son into the world To open once more the gates of heaven And to teach us how to know, love and serve thee Have mercy upon Thy people who live in Wales. Grant to them the precious gift of Faith And unite them in the one true Church Founded by Thine own dear Son, that, Acknowledging her authority and obeying her voice They may serve Thee, love Thee and worship Thee As Thou desirest in this world And obtain for themselves Everlasting happiness In the world to come Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen

Bishop:Our Lady, help of Christians
Faithful:Pray for us
Bishop:St David
Faithful:Pray for us
Bishop:St Winefride
Faithful:Pray for us.

The long Recessional Hymn was the

Our Lady of Penrhys Hymn Tune:Lourdes

________________________________________________ Here are some of the verses….

1.All glory to God for this wonderful place Which stands as a witness of mercy and Grace Ave, Ave, Ave Maria
2.For here in the Rhondda,here stands the blest shrine Which tells us of Jesus, the gift most divine.Ave..
3.For here in the valley a statue once stood Of Mary and Jesus concealed in a wood.Ave
4.And here with the monks they illumined the shrine In honour of Jesus the Saviour divine.Ave….
5.With candles and flowers the people would come To honour Our Lady and her greater Son Ave
6.And people would gather to see Christ displayed In the arms of his Mother in glory arrayed. Ave
7.With love and affection held close to her breast A kiss for her Saviour, she rocked him to rest. Ave..
8.And there as a gift for the suppliants sweet A spring of clear water flowed forth near her feet. Ave
9.And pilgrims who drank from the water were healed As Christ’s sovereign power was revealed Ave…
10.From Gwynedd and Powys, from Dyfed and Gwent The pilgrims would come and requests would be sent Ave….
11.And signs of God’s mercy and healings bestowed Were witnessed by those on the pilgrimage road Ave..
12.But then came a new king and sadly twas learned The statue was taken to England and burned Ave..
13.And here where the honour of Jesus was kept The people of Wales now with misery wept. Ave…
14.And ruin and darkness came over the place And of Mair on Penrhys with longing to pray Ave..
15.And there on the mountain with water still flowed A witness to all of the blessings of God Ave….
16.The centuries turned and the water flowed on With a message of hope until Wales was reborn Ave….
To God the All Sovereign, and Son, with due praise And Spirit of Holiness ,worship we raise. Ave…


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Scallops, staffs, books and Rosaries

On sale at the shrine were rosaries made by the ‘Crafty Pilgrims’ there were beautiful scallop shells, and pilgrims staffs .

Water Wood and Fire

The book has the Penrhys tour as its theme, and water being the Holy Well, the Wood being the oak tree in which the carving of the Holy Virgin appeared to have been carved, and fire when it was dragged at midnight to London and burnt. The book has been written and produced by children from the local schools. (Dwr, coed a Thân )The art and the poetry is very moving.My favourite is a poem by Liam Brabon and concerns the symbol of the scallop shell-the St James of Compostella pilgrims’ shell, now universally accepted as an emblem for a pilgrim.

http:/www.penrhys.com, email: penrhys@penrhyspartnership.co.uk 01443 755008 <

A href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_IHyz1HScgxI/SEIqqhq3HYI/AAAAAAAAA4A/sSJAgS4iQWk/s1600-h/Our+Lady+of+Penrhys+2008+038.JPG">


If you would like a copy of ‘Water wood and Fire’. 18 of the poems are in Welsh, and about 28 in English. All the money raised from the book goes to improve local facilities for the pilgrims and improve the local area so that the pilgrimage can grow. At the end of the final hymns, small children were commissioned by elderly people to clamber down to the well and fill plastic bottles with the holy water from the well. They enthusiastically scuttled up and down the bank with the plastic bottles. There is a good size car park right next to the pilgrimage site.Penrhys is reached from Ferndale.

Prayer for Priests

Please pray for a priest for the people of Ferndale and Penrhys. Somewhere out there is a priest who will come to look after the church and pilgrimage. Please pray for someone to come and provide a local priest. Hope you enjoy the pictures. My podcast has some great interviews with the pilgrims and the pilgrimage leader Laurence O’Leary.


The Welsh Parishes Pilgrimage will be repeated next year on the last Sunday in May 09

Friday, May 30, 2008

Llanarth Monastery and St Teilo-Llangarth






Tis was another Church which was closed, although there was a telephone number on the blog. I am using Celia Nash's excellent paper on Llanarth, which I got from the Catholic Chapel on Christmas Day. I will write more about that when I reach the sixteenth century. It seems the Celtic subject is so diverse it is like an open bucket, and you keep finding more and more evidence for our Catholic heritage. I arrived at Llanarth (St Teilo's Church)on an afternoon in early April and a man was working in the garden. Sadly I could not go in. The Man who was tending the graves, showed me the Catholic part of the cemetary, which housed the magnificent monuments of the Herbert family, which were quite stunning, and very lovingly tended. The Herbert family remained true to the Catholic Faith during all the times of the persecution, but more of that later.

My friend in the graveyard also told me with great joy of remembrance how he had gone to Lady Llanover's Christmas Party one year as a child and his face beamed when he recalled she had given him a large beautifully painted train set! Lady Augusta Hall, or Lady Llanover was an important figure in the reestablishment of the Catholic Church after the end of the persecution and restoration of the Church in 1851.She singlehandedly helped to bring dispossessed nuns over from Britanny to found new convents and Catholic Schools in Monmouth, Usk, Abergavenny, Pontypool, and Brecon and saw they had everything they needed. But again, more of that later.
Lets get back to this wonderful clas church and monastery and its story-it being a most important settlement in mid Gwent in the 6th century.

I am quoting from Celia Nash's work here."The name Llanarth could be taken to mean 'The Church on the ridge of the hill' but is more likely to indicate there was a sizeable monastic settlement here with a garth or cloister."And this is a pattern we have seen at Beddwellty, Caerwent, St Woolos (Gwynlliw's)and many other such settlements in Gwent in the sixth century. Celia goes on "The earliest mention of it is in the Liber Landavensis (The Book of Llandaff) wich tells us that King Iddon, son of Ynyr Gwent, for the exchange of the eternal kingdom, sacrificed one of his mansions, Llangarth and all its territories to Archbishop Teilo (without any earthly payment)to God and to the Church of Llandaff. St Teilo was Archbishop of Llandaff between 512 and 566. So there was a clas monastery here in the sixth century" and on the site of St Teilo's church.

What is there now is of course a Norman church, but if you look back at the arcives you will see loads of information about Teilo and Llandaff, and the other country retreat of the Bishops of Llandaff at Mathern (Tewdrig's Church of Martyrdom)We have met King Iddon before too. Ynyr Gwent his Father was killed in battle and his mother Queen Materiana (Madryn) of Gwent and brother Ceidio set of from Gwent on a White Martyrdom and ended up in a small 'island' a part of Boscastle called Minster and evangelised Tintagel and Boscastle, currently ruled from Tintagel by Gorlais and his wife Ygraine. The churches at Tintagel and Minster, Boscastle were both dedicated to St Materiana and there were Saxon and Norman buildings on both areas, the buildings remain until today.Iddon, King of Gwent as Arthur did after him (although we believe he was a petty king of Ercing but not a 'High King' but great military leader (see below)

It is impossible to tell whether Teilo himself came to this area to evangelise it, even though the land was given to him and to God and his Church, but it came from Roman Soldiers, from Glastonbury even earlier and Roman soldiers certainly controlled the ford across the Usk near here, which still has the Roman name Gobion.There are so many Christian settlements around here-the 'clas' churches with their resident priest (the word 'Llan' by this time meaning a church and priest. Llantilio Crosenny nearby also shows a link with St Teilo (Tilio) and Llandewi Rhydderch -(Clan dow-ee ruth-rch)perhaps St David had a house there.Llanfair Kilgeddin (definately worth a visit)and Llanfihangel Ystern Llwyn-all show the particular relationship with Our Lady and St Michael.Locally the church is overlooked by the majestic Holy Mountain-the Skirrid, with the ruin of the little Church above dedicated to St Michael, God's greatest protective Angel (mentioned in the book of Revelations)

Celia writes the following:"The Welsh Chronicles tell us that St Teilo, the Bishop of Llandaff was staying at his summer palace in Llanarth when King Iddon (pron Ithon--th as in the))came to ask his help to prevent the Saxons invading his realm."St Teilo thereupon ascended to the top of the mountain of Cresiny (Skirryd)and there stood, with outstretched arms, beseeching Amighty God to give the victory to the harassed Christians; and in consequence of St Teilo's powerful intercession, the Saxons were driven back accross the Wye'.
After his death, his name weas given to the Church on the hill at Llanarth. It is still dedicated to St Teilo and the property of the Diocese of Llandaff".(Anglican)

Entering the churchyard of St Teilos up on the hill, you can see that people are caring for it. IT is round and curved as you would expect. The holy well (at the bottom of the pictures) is a way off and nearer the site of Llanarth Court.It was recently renovated by the Herbert Family, who were descendants of the Earls of Worcester who owned Ragland Castle and held out for the Faith until the fall of Ragland Castle in the Civil War with Oliver Cromwell. It is easy to imagine that this whole village would have been cells and houses surrounding the church,containing the monks and priests, lay people and farmers and cooks who kept it all going. I have written in detail below about the hospitality of these clas churches so won't again. They all seemed to be high up, affording them a certain degree of protection.

I hope to be able to get into the church at some stage.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

**SATURDAY's PILGRIMAGE TO PENRHYS**ITINERY 31st May 2008

Our Lady of Penrhys by Photographer MAL DURBIN


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Our Lady of Penrhys, in 1538, was thrown from a window in Saint Pauls, London, and destroyed.Mary, Mother of Mercy, was the banner Arthur carried into battle.
When Rhys, the last king, or "Prince" of Wales died,his memory was honoured in association with Penrhys.(Penrhys means: "Rhys's head" The statue of Mary, at Penrhys,became the greatest site of pilgrimage in Wales.Many of the pilgrims were aware that the hopes and dreams of Wales could be brought here.
The Holy Well of Penrhys, up to 1538, was overlooked by the beautiful gilded figure of Our Lady.

Gwilym Tew, poet, says that:

"It was crowned, had ruddy cheeks,
the Holy Infant in the arms
and a precious stone in the bosom".
Gwilym Tew noted that
"there were human marks
upon the face of Our Lady of Penrhys."

Possibly marks upon the gilded face appeared as tear marks

At this time Bishop Latimer wrote to Thomas Cromwell suggesting the destruction of a number of Shrines of Our Lady, believing them to be a focus of idolatry, and thus 'the devil's instrument'. The statue at Penrhys at this time was obviously an important one as it, alongside others such as the one at Walsingham and Ipswich, was mentioned by name in this letter

On 23rd of August, 1538, the then Chancellor, Thomas Cromwell,instructed William Herbert "to remove the famous effigy as secretly as might be to prevent a local uprising".This was done. The figure itself was said to have been hurled through the west window at Saint Pauls by Bishop Latimer.He recommended afterwards that the figure, of wood, be "burned".

The original statue at Penrhys was said to be 'indescribably beautiful', and contained 'Mary nursing Jesus for a kiss'. Much smaller that the statue that currently resides at Penrhys it was thought to have originally been placed in an alcove at the small well chapel.


What a fabulous photograph this is and what a talented photographer! Superb evocative and emotional view of this statue.Anyway:-

Here are the Details for anyone from South Wales or elsewhere to go tomorrow.

History:

Legends tell that the original statue was a gift from heaven, which miraculously appeared in the branches of an oak tree at the site. The statue, it is said, resisted all attempts to move it from the tree so that, 'eight oxen could not have drawn the Image of Penrhys from its place in the tree'.

The statue only allowed itself to be moved when a shrine and chapel were built to house it. The original statue survived at Penrhys until the 1500's, and Henry Viii's dissolution of the monasteries.

Thus it is said the statue was removed from the shrine secretly at the dead of night to prevent any local unrest. From here it said the statue was removed to Thomas Cromwell's home in London, and after being thrown from the West window of St. Paul's by Bishop Latimer, it along with many other images of Mary was burned publicly.
When Ferndale church was built a Miss M.M. Davies of Llantrisant procured for the church a replica of the original statue, carved in oak standing in a tree trunk.
The statue that currently stands on the hillside at Penrhys was erected in 1953, and blessed by Archbishop McGrath on the 2nd July that year. The statue was carved out of Portland stone and designed, using the many description of the original statue contained in medieval welsh poetry, to resemble the original as closely as possible.

ITINERY FOR SATURDAY's PILGRIMAGE2nd annual combined parishes pilgrimage

1pm They hope you will be seated by then. If you are late bring your
own collapsible chair.

2pm Rosary of the most Blessed Virgin Mary

2.30 (approx)Procession of the Blessed Sacrament from the nearby Penrhys Arts Centre
to the Shrine.

3.15 Benediction

3.35 Homily

Penrhys Hymn and Hymns to Our Lady


All Hallows Choir are providing the Music
Toilet facilities at the Canolfan Rees Arts Centre.
Refreshments
Our Lady of Penrhys Pilgrimage Goods (new)available in a new marquee erected by the residents of Penrhys.


LOCATION IS SOUTH OF THE VILLAGE OF FERNDALE IN THE RHONDDA VALLEY,in the district called Pen Rhys.

Up Up into the Airy Mountains!!! To Bedwellty!





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I travelled back from Pontypool this morning by a different route, which took me up the Tredegar Road.I had decided to try and look at the Grotto to Our Lady of Lourdes Constructed in the grounds of the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Tredegar. Fortunately the Grotto was outside and the church itself locked. It was difficult to park and so I did not stay long. It was also lunch time so I did not feel I could interrupt Father.

On the way, however, I did see the signpost, just before the Rock Tavern to the left for Bedwellty and went to seek out this church as I believe it must have had a Celtic foundation. I had visited two other churches that morning, each one on the steep side of a mountain. Apparently they used to flash shields from church to c hurch if anyone was coming. I found the church easily and -miraculously-it was open.

This Church was originally no doubt a pagan place of worship. The name is a bit of a clue. The Druitd fire deity was Santan and when the Christian missionaries first evangelised the people, they tried to interpret what they already believed in Christian terms. The Druitds already believed in the Otherworld so the concept of heaven was not so difficult for them.Hence the settlement probably quite quickly became a onastic settlement called a Clas.As we have mentioned at Llangwm and other Clas Churches, there would be the holy monks, often married at the birth of the Church marriage was an option for priests. Then there would be laymen and people who grew and produced the food, worked on the land and dd the cooking.This was the established way of such places. We talked about Mamhilad as an important Clas Church, St Cadoc at Llancarfan and St Dyfrig and St Teilo at Llandaff. Here in Bedwellty , south of Tredegar-if you look on the map,The cells of all the people who worked in the clas were located in the walls of a round wall-like an 'island' which is what they were establishing-their own island. In St Materian's church in Tintagel she is shown on the banner standing on a green island-the Green Martyrdom.!

British monks and Bishops studied at advanced Theological Centres and were well trained Notable in Gwent were Caerwent and Caerleon.

Two fields in Bedwelly are stilled called 'Maes Llan'Church fields, probably tilled by the owners of the fields, the lay people in the class and then the lay brothers who worked for the Cistercians, as it was also a Grange of Llantarnam Abbey, a Cistercian Abbey near Cwmbran.(where the Corpus Christi pictures came from.The Clas, however in its Celtic format did not have a ruling body. What it did have,however, was trained monks who studied at theological centres like Caerleon and Nantcarfan.Caerwent was a very great centre of learning, and as we have seen, monks and particularly bishops travelled all over Europe and beyond to spread the word of God. They were well educated and instructed in the teaching of the Church as all the first disciples were. Pages of the gospels were set down to be taken around and some, like St Patrick even wrote letters.St David, St Cadoc, St Teilo and St Padarn all visited Jerusalem and Cadoc made seven different visits to Rome during the reigns of seven popes.This kept them abreast with all of the news of the fledging church.Life at Bedwellty no doubt fitten this pattern. People came and went.Strangers were offered hospitality. If they were staying they allowed their feet to be washed, if only staying for a meal, they declined. They amused themselves with funny stories and anecdotes and songs upon the harp, and the recital of poems.



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Royalty, Kingship and the Faith went hand in hand

As we have seen the whole system depended on the royal houses of Gwent and Wales, many of whose sons also held earthly office. Cadoc, for example being a great saint was also King of Gwent. Materiana was a Queen and Ceidio a prince. Unfortunately following the Battle of Camlann, the tribes of Britain, particularly over at the Marches were thrown into terrible Civil War, which weakened the British tribes and allowed the Saxons almost to walk in and take England away, driving the British into Wales and Scotland and razing all British civilisation in England to the ground and putting all the people either to the sword or into slavery. There were many refugees. It was to the heroic efforts of Meurig ap Tewdrig (remember the story and podcast of King Tewdrig-in the archives) following the Battle of Tintern that they were kept out until the final conquest of Gwent by Harold Godwinson. He had been in exils on Ynys Echni (Flat Holm) landed at Portskewett and took South Gwent by force, even coming to worship at St Woolos Cathedral.This was the year before Hastings.

Bedwellty Clas

Returning to Bedwellty Clas-it stood at 1025 ft above sea level.It is on a ridgeway between the Rhymney ad Sirhowy valleys. You MUST visit this Church to see the magnificent views and theaching Cross.

Opening HoursSaturdays from 11-3.30 and sometimes Friday mornings and Sunday Eucharist on the first Sunday of the Month.

Inside, there is much of interest, espcially some fantastic stained glass-three members of the Gwynlliw family Gwynlliw, Cadoc and Gwladys are depcited here as well as David and St Sannan and curiously St George.

Saint Sannan

There is some confusion as to St Sannan. The first information I found out about him was that he was the Priest of the father of the Holy Winifred of Holywell.Teuyth was his name.He and St Beuno convinced Teuyth to allow Winifred to become a religious sister which grieved Teuyth because she was his only child. Then there is the explanation that it could be St Senen. This is equally plausicble as Irish monks went everywhere in Europe, Boniface even found them in Germany!!Senan (died in 544AD was an Irish Abbot, who founded monasteries, studying in Irruscarra near Cork, Inis Mor (canon Island) Mutton Island (Clare) and Scattery Island(near Kilrush) where the ruins of his abbey still are.The shrine of Senan's Bell is in the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin and his feast Day is 8th March.Senan was a close friend of Dewi Sant (st David) and had royal blood.

Rome and Tours

He made several trips to Rome and Tours and made great impression with his earnestness and pietyThen he was Bishop of Inescathy in Ireland but not a favourite with the monks because he was so strict.He was well liked by the Faithful for his piety and uprightness and was canonised after his death by Pope Gregory.


St Senan and St David

There is a legend that st Senan visited Bedwellty to preach with St David. It is therefore possible he accompanied him to Rome and Jerusalem as well and was his anamchara or soul confessor.

An interesting, friendly Anglican church with interesting artefacts
There are two naves joined by Norman arches, perhaps from its time as a Cisterican Grange. The oldest part of the building is the Sanctuary. I was made very welcome by the present incumbant who showed me around and also a gentleman church warden who was chatting after what had obvously been a funeral, which I had just arrived on the back of. There were many familiar artefacts a gold tabernacle with sanctuary lamp burning above next to the Easter Sepulchre-which was made of wood.(see above)

The Wooden Easter Sepulchre called the Bread Chest

This chest is linked with a very old ritual closely connected with Good Friday liturgy. On Good Friday Catholics take part in a service called the 'Veneration of the Cross' .After the readings from St John the priest beings a veiled crucifix into the church, accompanied by the singing of the "Reproaches", the cross is unveiled.

Priest: O My people, what have I done unto thee, or wherein have I wearied thee? Testify against Me. Because I brought thee forth from the land of Egypt: thou hast prepared a Cross for thy Saviour.
Cantor I: Agios o Theos.
Cantor II: Holy God.
Cantor I: Agios ischyros.Cantor II: Holy mighty.
Cantor I: Agios athanatos, eleison imas.
Cantor II: Holy and immortal, have mercy upon us.
Priest Because I led thee through the desert forty years, and fed thee with manna, and brought thee into a land exceeding good: thou hast prepared a Cross for thy Saviour.
This is repeated three times.

This liturgy is much longer . The priests and congregation came forward barefoot on their knees-recently genuflecting or kneeling to kees the feet on the crucifix, in early days the pyx (Euchasist container was also kissed)A Host (Holy bread wafer) had been placed in this pyx, and as Eamonn Duffy explains it was the third host consecrated previously on Holy Thursday to emphasis the importance of the Blessed Trinity.Father, Son as the Son of God and Spirit.The priest then takes of his vestment and is only in his surplice. The pyx and cross are then wrapped in a holy cloth and put into the Easter Sepulchre-almost as if they were being put into a tomb. In the wooden selpulchre here in Bedwellty you can see the Sacred Heart and other four wounds of Christ depicted on a panel (see above)Sometimes these could be made out of stone but they were expensive and more usually found in cathedrals and abbey churches.

Adoremus te Christe-We adore you O Christ The Reproaches were followed by the Crux Fidelis (Faithful Cross above all other,) and the words of FortunatusPange Lingua (see last Sunday's post on Corpus Christi)So the Holy bread
Bethlehem was the town of Bread-the Bread of the Eucharist, the chest was the Bread chest this and links it with the broken Body of Christ on the Cross.

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CRUX fidelis,
inter omnes
arbor una nobilis;
nulla talem silva profert,
flore, fronde, germine.
Dulce lignum, dulci clavo,8
dulce pondus sustinens


FAITHFUL Cross!
above all other,
one and only noble Tree!
None in foliage, none in blossom,
none in fruit thy peers may be;
sweetest wood and sweetest iron!
Sweetest Weight is hung on thee





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The adoration of the Holy Crucifix and its veneration on Good Friday is an essential ritual on Good Friday. The Mass is understood in respect of it, and the Eucharist returns to it.The grief is remembered and the Easter duties due-penance and confessions of what we have done to hurt ourselves and others and our little and unforgotten acts of cruelty to others. In days gone by, the sepulchres was blessed with incense, before the Faithful left. Candles burn throughout Good Friday until the Vigil Mass and people keep vigil. In days gone by the Easter Depulchre was regarded as a quasi symbolic tomb, bringing home to an illiterate people what was happening. Even today numbers of people keep a vigil, but generally not all night and we now have fire regulations and locked churches at night.

In former rites the pyx was taken out of the sepulchre after being censed and and was put back on the the high altar.(That of the Tridentine now called 'Extraordinary Form' of the Mass. At the Easter Vigil Mass (now held at Midnight Easter Saturday) the crucifix is lifted out of the wooden sepulchre and "resurrected". The lage Easter (Paschal Candle) has pins affixed to it as wounds and the light (Lumen Christi=Light of Christ) carried into the Church. The whole congregation are carrying small wax candles. .At a given point nowadays, the electric lights are turned on as the solemn mood changed to one of adulation and the crucifix was carried around the church with bells ringing.The people usually sang the Salve Regina.to tahn Mary for the gift of her son. This ritual shows that Christ has risen; ("Christus Resurgens".)

Eamon Duffy in his book The Stripping of the Altars writes about the role of the Easter Sepulchre and its function in the pre Tridentaine ritual, which is essentially the same today.The role of the 'pyx' and the Eucharist, where Jesus is truly present, the expression of Christ's torment and suffering

This played an even more important part even than the Corpus Christi ceebration.The Vigil was perhaps the wait of the women (Mary Magdalene, Mary Cleophas and Mary Jesus Mother) who went to the tomb or even the Roman soldiers themselves .

Other Easter Sepulchres carried many symbols of these people, whether they were in wood or stone.There were also, of course the angels.

The two Easter Sepulchres in Monmouthshire , at Coety and Bedwellty are the only ones in Wales of this sturdy wooden type to survive all the various destroyers. It is easy to burn and destroy, can get woodworm and is easily chopped up or made into something else. It is harder to smash stone monuments although detructive attacks can be seen on some of them On the other hand the faithful could more easily have carried them away and hidden them too.

Wood was a good choice. The wood of the cross. The wood of the Tree of Life and even the 'Green Man' became associated with the Christian message.The Welsh had a plentiful supply of excellent wood craftsmen and were pious and devout. Cromwell had knocked out all the stained glass but clearly the most important sepulchre had been removed. The Congregation call the chest, the 'Bread Chest'it has eight panels in all and the most interesting can be clearly seen above.The lily is the symbol of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the rose the 'Rose of Sharon' another title. Bread chest because it held the Holy consecrated bread containging the real body of the Crucified Christ when he died to atone for our sins.

The remaining two panels are as follows. The first panel displays two hands, a heart and two feet. This motif is enclosed within a circle, which itself is enclosed in a square with a flower, a rose or lily, at each corner. As the description indicates, this first panel depicts the five puncture wounds of the Crucifixion. The five wounds had such relevance in medieval religion that each had their own prayers, which were used as meditative aids. The surrounding circle could be interpreted as the rope used to bind Christ to the cross of the crucifixion or the crown of thorns. Two possible interpretations of the flowers at each corner of the scene are that of the roses and lilies suggested previously. Both flowers have religious significance. The lily represents Mary the virgin mother of Christ, a widely used symbol in the medieval world of her purity and virginity. This can be linked with the five wounds as a reference to Mary’s presence at the crucifixion and the suffering she endured as she watched her son suffer and die. Further it also echoes her status as the mother who gave birth to the Church. A third interpretation is that the flowers, as roses draw on another name for Christ, the Rose of Sharon.

The image of the wounds can be seen in stained glass windows and many places and even on prayer cards. Indeed the importance of the five wounds of the passion within the church used to be clearly displayed in churches.

The devotion to the pireced Sacred Heart of Jesus, incorporating the other wounds has devloped from this in recent times.

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It was during the Mediaeval times the Dominicans devloped them into a special devotion (now to be seen as a chaplet containing five silver wounds) and individual prayers that would help remind the penitent of the saving power of being washed in the blood of Christ, the Lamb of God. The Faithful were reminded of the importance of repentence and redemption. Redemption was only possible through the Full and Final Sacrifice of Christ.
The prayers contain the same themes as you can see carved on the chest.

I adore you, Lord Jesus Christ, hanging on the Cross, and bearing on your head a crown of thorns: I beseech you, Lord Jesus Christ, that your cross may free me from the avenging angels.

I adore you, Lord Jesus Christ, wounded on the cross, drinking vinegar and gall: I beseech you Lord Jesus Christ, that your wounds may be my remedy.

I adore you, Lord Jesus Christ, placed in the tomb, laid in myrrh and spices: I beseech you Lord Jesus Christ, that your death may be my life.

I adore you, Lord Jesus Christ, descending into hell, liberating the captives: I beseech you never let me enter there. etc. (trans from Tenebrae services)

I will discuss Bedwellty again when we reach the Middle Ages, even though the Sepulchre is from this period.

It was said that the churches on top of the moment used to signal to each other with flashing shields when danger was near, but the greatest danger came from the sixteenth century when damage was done by iconoclasts and later Oliver Cromwell's army. Thank God that beautiful items created with love have been restored to these churches.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

HIC IACET ARTORIVS REX QVONDAM REXQVE FVTVRVS

The Death of Arthur following the furious and ferocious Battle of Camlann, most likely at Slaughterbridge on the River Camel in Cornwall near Camelford is commemorated in a sixth century inscribed stone in the River.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, being a poet whose feelings were touched by these stories arrived to write his famour tales of Arthur at the Hanbury Arms Inn on the Usk at Caerleon, remaining for quite some time. In spite of the romanticised setting he does capture the sadness and agony of Bedwyr, Arthur's trusted friend that all is over. This is the end of the Island of Britain as they knew it. The Welsh were the remnants of a larger nation, who until Arthur could not learn to live together for the common good. There is the realisation, that his wife did not care for him, his beloved friends were dead and he could not have been sure if it was all woth it. It is his cousin Morgan who accompanies him to Glastonbury-the former lake village, the beautiful orchards of apples and meadows, where his later tomb stone read

HIC IACET ARTORIVS REX QVONDAM REXQVE FVTVRVS

Here lies Arthur, the once and future King

So all day long the noise of battle rolled
Among the mountains by the winter sea;
Until King Arthur's table, man by man,
Had fallen in Lyonnesse about their Lord,
King Arthur: then, because his wound was deep,
The bold Sir Bedivere uplifted him,
Sir Bedivere, the last of all his knights,
And bore him to a chapel nigh the field,
A broken chancel with a broken cross,
That stood on a dark strait of barren land.
On one side lay the Ocean, and on one
Lay a great water, and the moon was full.
Then spake King Arthur to Sir Bedivere:
"The sequel of today unsolders all
The goodliest fellowship of famous knights
Whereof this world holds record. Such a sleep
They sleep -the men I loved. ……
Then loudly cried the bold Sir Bedivere,
"Ah! my Lord Arthur, whither shall I go?
Where shall I hide my forehead and my eyes?
For now I see the true old times are dead,
When every morning brought a noble chance,
And every chance brought out a noble knight.
Such times have been not since the light that led
The holy Elders with the gift of myrrh.
But now the whole ROUND TABLE is dissolved
Which was an image of the mighty world;
And I, the last, go forth companionless,
And the days darken round me, and the years,
Among new men, strange faces, other minds."
And slowly answered Arthur from the barge:
"The old order changeth, yielding place to new,
And God fulfils Himself in many ways,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.
Comfort thyself: what comfort is in me?
I have lived my life, and that which I have done
May He within Himself make pure! but thou,
If thou shouldst never see my face again,
Pray for my soul. More things are wrought by prayer
Than this world dreams of. Wherefore, let thy voice
Rise like a fountain for me night and day.
For what are men better than sheep or goats
That nourish a blind life within the brain,
If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer
Both for themselves and those who call them friend?
For so the whole round earth is every way
Bound by gold chains about the feet of God.
But now farewell. I am going a long way
With these thou seest -if indeed I go -
(For all my mind is clouded with a doubt)
To the island-valley of Avilion;
Where falls not hail, or rain, or any snow,
Nor ever wind blows loudly; but it lies
Deep-meadowed, happy, fair with orchard-lawns
And bowery hollows crowned with summer sea,
Where I will heal me of my grievous wound."

Arthur Guinevere and.....Mordred


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In our final episode about Arthur, we should some up aspects about what made him a real Dux bellorum (leader of Battles). Arthur was a real warleader, a Christian who may have been a petty king of Ercing , who was nonetheless a flawed personality in the spiritual sense.. There is no reason , ion view of this to doubt his being buried in Glastonbury in the Christian manner , without grave goods and facing towards Jerusalem. A shard of long blonde hair was also found in that of his queen, and Geoffrey of Monmouth had wintnessed it. By the time it was discovered, Glastonbury Abbey was a famous and very rich abbey and had no need to advertise Arthur as a ‘draw’. In addition Arthur was not a great public saint, but a war leader.

There have been many tales told about Arthur and all sorts of romantic mediaeval chivalric additions, most fictitious yet which have endured from mediaeval times. Arthur was a Christian King, he carried a statue of the Virgin on his shoulders at one of his battles and he was always chastened when he came up against the saints. He is said to have been Dux Bellorum, the war leader who led the natives of the island of Britain and mercenaries from Ireland , Brittany and even Saxaons against the Saxon tribes and defeated them at Mount Badon. This could be Bedwyn, but for many reasons Christopher Gidlow suggests North Wales.

The evidence for his life rests on De Exicidae Britannicae by Gildas, who lived just after the reign of Arthur and the book is named ‘The Ruin of Britain’. Gildas, of Pictish extraction tells the tale of the ferocious civil war that ensued after Arthur’s death.

There is an oral tradition, then ancient, that Northern Britons heard the tale of a fallen hero called Guarthur. The bard brought before all Arthur’s generosity with his horses and the slaughter that ensued. This was at Cattraeth. The oral tradition of this must have been much older, the poem being passed on from generation to generation-but only a few hundred years before it was written down.

Historia Brittonum

Links Arthur also to Gwent, the elite Romanised Silurians at Caerwent, the hillfort chieftains of Glwyssing (Glwys father of Woolos/Gwynlliw) Most particularly he is linked to Ercing , which is now mostly Herefordshire . We also have the story of Arthur in the mountain near Brycheiniog when Woolos is trying to carry of Gwladys of Brycheiniog. There is a possibility that he was a sub king of Ercing.(part of Hereford) It was customary for young boys to be placed with a foster family and after the death of Uther, and Ygraine’s later marriage to the Chieftain of the Bretons . Uther and Ygraine who were afterwards married also gave birth to a daughter Anna, who gave birth to Medraut or Mordred. Ygraine then married King Budicus of Brittany after Uther Pendragon was poisoned by Saxons after just driving them out of St Albans to which they had advanced. Ygraine and Budicus gave birth to Hoel, who was Arthur’s loyal step brother who supported him in his campaigns.

Petty King of Ercing but Magister Milites

Arthur probably would have grown up in the petty royal family in Ercing as a relative and a foster brother to Kai and Bedwyr (Kay and Bedevere) who do feature in the mediaeval tales, but they were warriors and officials like Arthur. Uther and Ambrosius were brothers, and when Ambrosius was killed, Uther became the Pen Draco-the chief Warleader. We have every reason to believe Arthur was baptised as a child. Glwyssing and Gwent were strongholds of Christian faith.
This is not to say that he did not live in other parts of Britain from time to time. As a war leader, also a Pendragon, or Magister Milites (Master of Soldiers) he was called to fight the Saxons all over Britain as well as Caerleon. There is evidence in Kent, which may have been reached cross country over the Ridgeway to the Chilterns and then South. There is evidence in the North of Britain. There is even evidence that he fought in Gaul from the Breton ‘Life of Saint Gouesnou’ where the author monk writes ‘Their pride is checked for a while by the great Arthur, King of the Britons ‘ who ‘famously wins many battles in Britain and parts of Gaul’.(Ashe 1982)

Pentecost Celebration Feast

The great ‘Coronation Feast’ at Caerleon is clearly an embroidery of what may have just been a celebration of victory or peace after war. The imagery is that of a chivalric twelfth century. The idea that the celebration took place at the ancient Roman amphitheatre is quite plausible. It was the only large area which could take such a wealth of gathered leaders, who had come to join Arthur, recognising has power as a great general. He may have been a petty king of Ercing in North Gwent, but could not have been crowned King of Britons. The function of warleader was generally not that of kings. It may even have been a wedding feast with Gwenhwyfar. We may never know because of Geoffrey’s different interpretation of the event.However, this was a great and still magnificent Roman city and it is here to St Julian’s Convent that Gwynhafr fled to spend the rest of her days.

Badon Hill (Mons Badonis) and the evil Saxons!!!

We know he actually existed because of his achievement in the victory of Badon Hill. Common sense dictates that somebody co-ordinated the siege of Badon Hill. Small kingdoms joined together to fight the encroaching Saxons. They were a pest, killers of Tecla, Tegfedd, possibly even Tyfil, they attacked Mamhilad in Pontypool and fought against Tewdrig and Meurig in warbands. There is evidence the Saxons and Angles were beginning to band together and make a real ‘push’ to colonise Britain, pushing the remaining British into Wales, not bothering much with Ireland, and pushing the Cymrics (from Cumbria) even further north, into the land of the Picts and Scots. They put large numbers of small monastic settlements to the sword, only keeping those they needed as slaves. We have evidence from the Book of Llandaff that large numbers of refugees crossed the Wye and the Severn.

Warlords often employed by kings

The Victor at Badon was a military commander, the political realities of the time blurred the distinction between military and civilian, even in our own day we have had military leaders holding civil office, most are dictators, General Franco, Fidel Castro in Cuba was a military government, the leadership in present Burma, even the notorious Saddam Hussein. Warlords amalgamated small kingdoms all over the West of Britain so some sorty of person must co-ordinated the resistance to the siege of the Saxons. There were still British ‘enclaves’ in the East of Britain. What we are reffing to is he Western Kingdom now known as Britannia. So this Federation of the kingdoms of Western Brtain, for its own preservation joined into a defensive fource under a great warlord. ‘The co-incidence’, says Christopher Gidlon ‘between a British Magister Militum, and a supporting civil authority, waging wars against the Saxons in the generation before Gildas and Maglocunus , Arther the Warleader of the Historia Brittonum and The Gododdin is obvious. It is likely they were one and the same person. The only counter argument is unlikely; that all in the British Kingdoms. The true name of the man who led the resistance was forgotten and replaced with another man who did not’

Annales cambriae

Historia Brittonum is not the only text referring to Arthur. The Annales Cambriae (Welsh Chronicles) also support his existence at Badon and also his death in a battle of a different nature of a civil war. Gidlow writes, ‘Y Gododdin, Historia and Annales l describe the real man, the victor of the Battle of Badon, and are perfectly consistent with historical reality

Stories of the Welsh and Gwentian Saints

In the stories of the Welsh saints, you see nothing of his fighting of the Saxons and it would be easy to imply that the references were there to make them more interesting. What I believe they are are spiritual snapshots of Arthur’s real personality. The would be seducer of Gwenhwyfar, the childish withholder of Carannog’s altar, the jealous person coveting Padarns holy robe. Perhaps the stories show that the great saints played their part in taming the wild and undisciplined kings. Arthur could overstep the mark and he struck so hard at one battle in the North of England that all the clergy came bare headed and bare footed to beg for mercy for the defeated.

Draco-Dragon Dragon a ruthless and cruel ruler

Interestingly dragon (Draco) is a name given to a dictatorial and cruel Warlord. The story of Carannogs altar (below) would seem to bear out that Arthur was trying to deal with such a renegade war leader, acting as a sort of sixth century policeman.

Geoffrey's Embroideries

The legendary and chivalric mediaeval Arthur was an embroidery of Geoffrey, as well as one or two creations of his own . There were so many battles and he added a fictitious gloss, and it is easy to see where he added them and has no bearing on the case that he actually was existed and was buried as a Christian at Glastonbury. The Normans were entraned by the story of the ancient Britons. They despised the Saxons and it is largely due to the Norman Monks that subsequent histories were written, with confusing locations and so forth. The battle of Badon may have been fought at Bewdyn in Wiltshire or Badon North Wales.

Battle of Camlann

The Battle of Camlann is another case in point. The place where Arthur, Kai, Medraut (Mordred) There is the sixth century inscribed stone under the river at Slaughterbridge in Camelford. Viewble from the bank, but difficult climb and on private land. A ‘King Arthur Centre’ has been opened nearby, but concentrating on the whole legends of Arthur and all material about all the chivalric 13th century. The stories of Arthur were phenomenally exciting to continental Europe and taken across the Kingdoms of the Franks (West Franks) and the to Germany(East Franks) coming through Breton sources. These then became further embroidered by other considerations, Germanic legends and great glittering French stories. Associated characters from Welsh legends like Peredur, become Parzival and Percival, Geraint who was also a real person, somehow gets linked in as one of the knights others seem to be inventions of French and German writers.Drystan, seemingly one of Arthur’s ‘real ‘ associates becomes Tristan (the sad-Fr)and Yseullt his wife Isolde and the story that emerged was irresistible and the basis of a great opera by Wagner, as indeed was Parzival.So the Arthur legends were a mediaeval phenomenon as soon as Geoffrey’s book was translated and copied at Monmouth Priory.

There is also a basis for Camlann in Wales, France and various other places, but the site at Camelford or Wales would have been the most probable because of the proximity to Glastonbury. The tradition of the battle’s site at Slaughterbridge is a powerful one of great antiquity. His adversary was none other but Medraut, his nephew.

Gwenhwyfar and Mordred (Medraut)

Arthur had been away from his queen for a while, especially fighting in Gaul, and left Gwenhwyfar as regent, as a ruler in her own right. It is reasonable to see she would ask for the advice of Arthur’s cousin Medraut and that he might seduce her. Arthur may have turned a blind eye to her adultery, but was reputed in the triads to have struck her hard over this in front of his court. It seems that Medraut had cast his eye over all. Arthurs lands and power and as we said yesterday, having control of the regent meant, he could lay claim to Arthur’s inheritance. This carrying off of brides to gain their husband’s lands was a well known phenomenon. It appears that Gwenhwyfar’s adultery, skirted around by Geoffrey, was known by Gildas and the Triad compilers. This was indeed a ferocious civil war, over a woman. Gwenhwyfar and Medraut (Mordred) flee to York where they are pursued by Arthur’s men. Gwenhwyfar (Guinevere) escapes all the way back to Caerleon and Mordred flees back down south to Cornwall where he raises an army. The Queen enters religious life as St Julian’s Convent,(on the South bank of the Usk between Caerleon , where George Herbert's House once stood) where she later dies and body brought to Glastonbury, to join her husband.The stones from that house are now in the church of Ss Julius and Aaron on Heather Road at St Julians in Newport. The site of the convent was at the end of Haisbro Avenue but Newport have just built a block of luxury flats there on the site of St Julius Martyrdom, the Chapel and George Herbert's house, which was formed from the stones of an earlier building, possibly the nunnery.

The Passing of Arthur

It seems the ageing Arthur and his knights meet Mordred and a powerful force, and in this battle no one won. In a Phyrric victory all died, and the history of Britain after that was ruinous. One bad leader emerged after another and the last the worst of all. There was continuous fighting between the feuding commanders and this weakens the whole of the island of Britain and allows the great influx of Saxon settlers into the areas already won during the time of Uther. Gildas thought little of Guinevere, however, as there is no doubt that this love triangle caused the downfall of the only man capable of leading the Britains in a straight way against the invader . It divided the forces fighting against them, and the moral of the tale, ‘a mortal sin can only end badly’.

One of the worst of the additions of Geoffrey and subsequent writers was to make of Arthur's other cousin Morgan into a wicked sorceress instead of the kindly woman who accompanied Arthur to his last resting place, Ynys Witrin or the place of Apples in Glastonbury.We have to be proud that his stories gave rise to a plethora of tales that have anchanted the world more than Merlin and given everlasting fame to the last great defender of the Britons, who were subsequently overwhelmed by Saxons after civil wars. We can only be proud it was written at Monmouth Benedictine Priory so beautifully preserved and picturesque.

Growth and Development of the Saxon Church after Augustine

But this was the will of God, and when they came, the Saxon brothers, in a period of peace, were newly catechised by Augustine (the Welsh, understandably having nothing to do with evangelising the Saxons) these new Christians, with their zeal and generosity were among the great new saints of the islands, travelling to remote and dangerous places in Germany and France and setting up the Church in a more structured way, so that the Body of Christ which is the church, could support each other and not fall into errors of faith, providing the early link with Peter.

An excellent Source

Christopher Gidlow’s book is excellent, superbly researched with very interesting extras-(what the weapons of the ancient Britons looked like, the Anglo Saxon erivation of Some-saete, Dor Saete, and Devon Dyfneint (Dumnonia Lat) There is a detailed examination of all the evidence-so do buy and read. IBSN0750934190
The Reign of Arthur from History to Legend by Christopher Gidlow (avail amazon)

Great stories will always be great stories and the stories will go on to enchant the people of the world for many years to come.

Gwentian Perspective is considered enthusiastically

His real story closely links him to Gwent. Caerleon is a strong contender and still worth a visit as so many remaining Roman buildings are still standing, baths, a magnificent Roman museum, St Cadoc's Church on the site of the original forum and Temple of Jupiter as well as a complete ruined set of barracks and amphitheatre.The period of peace Arthur fought so hard for. Meurig, son of tewdrig later kept the bulk of the Saxons on the other side of the Severn and Wye in future years. These Saxons were at first pagans and killers and there is no doubt that the Welsh nature of Gwent was saved by Meurig and his men, the great Chieftain of Glamorgan, whose father, Tewdrig died earlier at the Battle of Tintern.

Lastly it is good to realise that after his death within a generation, while holding upin Wales, the Saxons begin to arrive in large numbers, residing in the East and later north and eventually driving out the British from Dumnonia(Devon-Cred's monastery probably disappeared here from Crediton, only retaining the name-the Brits probably fleeing to Cornwall and Sancreed (St Cred) In the new Church the Saxons originally built at Crediton when they had been Christianised, this became the birthplace of Wynfryth or Boniface.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Corpus Christi celebration in Rome with Benedict XVI

The Consecrated Bread containing the real and living Christ, is taken in a lovely recaptacle called a monstrance for Christ to bless the streets of Rome.Rome was where Peter, with Christ's authority created his visible church.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Arthur, the Christian and flaws.Padarn's Jerusalem Coat, Mordred and Gwenhwyfar

Arthur,his foster brothers and men Cai and Bedwyr


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The Authentic and flawed Christian Leader

Reading ‘The Reign of Arthur from History to Legend by Christopher Gridlow (Sutton IBSN 0750934190 dedicated to the Oxford Arthurian Society) for the first time I could read someone was taking arthur seriously. Arthur definitely did exist and was a hardened and skilful warrior and powerful leader and no pushover for anyone. Indeed he also locates her sphere as South East Wales in particular and he fights all over Wales. Stripped of all the mediaeval armour, crusader flavour and mystical New Age stuff, there is enough in the sources to learn about Arthur the Chieftain-Dux bellorum- Leader of Wars, but nowhere is he called ‘King’, even if he is a great leader. There are other kings like Ambrosius but Arthur is a leader! He travels around the country to Cattraeth, to Chester, to North Wales (CG lives a North Welsh location for he Battle of Camlann being more likely on the historical evidence, although there is a tradition of this, Arthur’s final battle. taking place in Slaughterbridge on the River Camel near Tintagel.

Flaws in Character- A sinner

Arthur is always depicted as a Christian. He can be petty, jealous even somewhat cruel but when faced with the power of God , he capitulates, and confesses, shows remorse. It must have been difficult to straddle the line between ferocious fighter and Christian life.We know that at the Battle of Castellum Guinnion, a Roman fortress, where the pagans are put to flight (so it appears the Britons were defenders against the Saxons) He carries a statue of the Virgin Mary on his shoulders and invokes her protection.This is one of Arthurs battles up north-at Binchester near Cattraeth. The next battle against the Saxons was probably fought at Caerleon .

To be a leader in these days of ‘Saxon Battering’ he would have had to be a hard man and the stories revealed so far show some very unattractive traits-his childishness over the haggling over the cows at Tredunnock, refusing to let Carannog have his altar back until he had done his business in taming the threat with his divine power-thus ‘proving’ he really was a man of God! The Author of the Life of Padarn goes further. He calls Arthur a tyrant!

Arthur and the Story of Padarn’s Coat

David, Teilo and Padarn all were asked by a heavenly messenger, to go to Jerusalem. The ‘Life of Padarn goes on’ They came at length to Jerusalem and there preached in the noblest manner after the manner of the Apostles ;and afterwards were ordained by the imposition of a pair of hands of the chief archbishop. The three saints were enriched by presents and Padarn had a two fold present, namely a staff and a coat woven throughout.They returned happily , and divided Britain into their three dioceses , unless the malice of tyrants should afterwards disturb them.

And when Padarn was in the church, resting after such a long sea journey , a certain , , whose name was Arthur , traversed the countries on each side, and came a certain day to the cell of St Padarn the new bishop and while he spoke to Padarn , he noticed his coat and being seized by the affection of jealousy he asked it he could have it ; and the saint, answering ,said’ This coat is not suitable for the wearing of any sinful person , but for a clerical habit.’ Arthur went out of the monastery in a rage , and again returned in a state of anger that he might take away the coat against the wishes of the attendant saints. One of the disciples of Padarn, seeing him return in a rage, ran to St Padarn and said. ‘The tyrant who was here before is returning in an insulting manner and treading the ground levels it with his feet. ‘Padarn answered, ‘Yes, may the earth swallow him’. With the word , the ground opened its bosom to some depth and swallowed Arthur as far as his chin , who immediately acknowledged; himself a sinner, and he began to praise God and Padarn ;until by asking pardon, the earth delivered him up. And in that place with bended knees he begged the favour of the saint and obtained it ; and he accepted Padarn as his perpetual patron , and so departed.

So Arthur does not come out in any sort of a good light here, but it is probably much more the real Arthur than the one of knightly chivalry and whilst he is termed a tyrant when he is caught out he does ask pardon, he does confess and atone and recognise the might of God.

Gwenhwyfar, the faithless 'White Spirit' and Mordred-Wife Raids

Modena Archivolt gives details about the ‘real’Gwenhwyfar. (Guinevere)
In this source it seems that far from Gwenhwyfar, Arthur’s wife (French ‘Guinevere) conceiving a passion for courtly French Knight Sir Lancelot (who does not appear in this real Arthurian story)her lover was Arthur’s nephew Mordred, who recruited Saxon troops from the Saxons. The result was a ferocious civil war that led to the destruction of the whole kingdom and eventual domination by the Saxons. Mordred recruited foreigners, the Angles.

Exactly ten years after Arthur's death at Camlann in the Annales Cambriae, Ida founds Anglian Bernicia, the original Anglian kingdom that grew into Northumbria. However, Arthur's fall may not originally have been considered a key event in the Anglian domination of Britain. The Queen survived Gwenhwyfar fled to a convent, Geoffrey claims to the convent built at the site of St Julius death at St Julians, on the South bank of the Usk-near the present church of that name in Heather Road..
York and Gwenhwyfar’s flight to St Julians, where she ended her days and was brought to Glastonbury

Gwenhwyfar flees to St Julian's Convent between Caeleon and present day Newport

Gwenhwyfar sought refuge in the current capital of Brigantia. According to Geoffrey, Gwenhwyfar and Medraut were living together in York when Arthur arrived to challenge them. From York, Gwenhwyfar flees to the church of Julius the Martyr at Caerleon. Gwenhwyfar's flight to a convent is an indication that she had been a willing partner of Medraut .Gwenhwyfar is not a victim seeking reunification with her first husband but Medraut's accomplice.

Source of her adultery very old and predate Geoffrey's tale


We know that the tales of Gwenhwyfar and Medraut existed prior to the writing of Geoffrey's History: Indeed the entire adultery scenario set out by Geoffrey of Monmouth seems to have been common knowledge. The name Gwenhwyfar means "white spirit or phantom," a reference to the Celtic world.Common at this time in attempts to conquer land were wife stealing raids, a marriage by conquest and then a transfer of power. The victor claims his new wife and lays a claim to her husbands lands. This is what Mordred did with Gwenhwyfar and the queen actively connives at this with Mordred. It certainly was a dog-eat-dog world!!

Gwenhwyfar left as Regent with Mordred

Arthur leaves Gwenhwyfar as a -ruler of Britain in his absence further supports the theory that she is a sovereignty figure for the land. Mordred was not ashamed for his behaviour. Getting a beautiful powerful and wealthy wife like this was an expected ambition and therefore there was no need for guilt. The role of the wife in sovereignty/ownership of the land was very real

Much of this information about Gwenhwyfar is given in Michelle Ziegler, The Heroic Age, Issue 1, Spring/Summer 1999 Belleville,Illinois adds this interesting comment:
In Welsh Triad 80, The Three Faithless Wives of the Island of Britain, Gwenhwyfar is listed as the fourth and most faithless of all. This triad illustrates that Gwenhwyfar was not viewed as a helpless victim. Being the fourth listed, she was probably a late addition to the triad. There are numerous examples of faithless wives in Celtic literature, all ultimately based on sovereignty. Gwenhwyfar's faithlessness as a core character trait later allowed French authors free rein in their treatment of the laxity of her moral code. Yet in the Welsh tales, this faithlessness is found only in relation to Medraut and not others.

The role of Gwenhwyfar as the instigator of Camlann is widely attested in the earliest Welsh legends. Geoffrey of Monmouth) gives us the fullest version. The triads give a different version in which Camlann is caused by a feud between Gwenhwyfar and her sister Gwenhwyfach.
So some fresh food for thought here then , although there must be some sympathy for Gwenhwyfar. With all Arthurs travels he could not have been around much!
Tomorr0w St Dubricius and Arthur.

Madeleine McCann.

This interesting video superbly made by Janet James leads to some interesting questions about the disappearance to Madeleine.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Panis Angelicus and Corpus Christi-Llantarnam Abbey Procession Today



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Today is Corpus Christi Sunday! A very special and high holy Day. The hymn Panis Angelicus has often been in the charts recently. Pavarotti, Roberto Alagna, Lesley Garret and many have recorded it-even me (listen on www.music.podshow.com under 'Opera') but this him is part of the liturgy for today. Read on and find the origins of this amazing feast and ritual by which Jesus said 'Lo I am with you always even to the End of Time.

The Church's other devotions are Benedictiona special meditation where the priest blesses the Faithful with a Consecrated Eucharist in which Jesus is now present and Adoration. This is a meditation where you sit before the Eucharist and allow it to enter your hearts.

Panis angelicus The Bread of Angels
fit panis hominum; Becomes the Bread of Man
Dat panis coelicus The Bread of heaven
figuris terminum: Represents all future outcomes
O res mirabilis! What a wonderful thing!
Manducat Dominum. a poor and humble servant
Pauper, servus et humilis consumes him, the Lord

Te trina Deitas We beg of You
unaque poscimus: God, One in Three
Sic nos tu visita, that you visit ussicut te colimus; as we worship You
Per tuas semitas By your ways
duc nos quo tendimus, lead us who seek
Ad lucem quam inhabitas. the light in which You dwell
Amen. Amen
St Thomas Aquinas

Panis angelicus is the penultimate strophe of the hymn Sacris solemniis written by St Thomas Aquinas for the Feast of Corpus Christi as part of a complete liturgy of the Feast including prayers for the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours.

The strophe that begins with the words "Panis angelicus" (bread of angels) has often been set to music separately from the rest of the hymn. In 1872, César Franck set this verse to music for tenor and orchestra. He incorporated it into his Messe Solennelle Op.12. Count John McCormack's 1932 performance of it in Dublin's Phoenix Park was considered the highlight of his career. It has been sung effectively by Luciano Pavarotti, Plácido Domingo, Richard Crooks, and Roberto Alagna, as well as by the soprano Lesley Garrett and many other recording stars.My own recording can be found on Podshow under 'opera'.

Processions-Following Jesus

In some areas, like here at Llantarnam Abbey in Monmouthshire, there are large processions, led by the children who are to make their first Holy Communion at this time. This sacrament is part of the initiation of the new Christians into the life of the Church and the body and blood will help to transform them before their final Confirmation as full members of the Church.Little girls often wear bridal dress, to show they have become brides of Christ and boys also wear smart clothing for this special day.



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St Thomas Aquinas other Songs

St Thomas Aquinas wrote other hymns for Corpus Christi: Verbum supernum prodiens (the last two strophes begin with "O salutaris Hostia") and Pange lingua gloriosi (the last two strophes begin with "Tantum ergo".




The name given to the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar in its twofold aspect of sacrament and Sacrifice of Mass, and in which Jesus Christ is truly present under the bread and wine.

Other titles are used, such as "Lord's Supper" (Coena Domini), "Table of the Lord" (Mensa Domini), the "Lord's Body" (Corpus Domini), and the "Holy of Holies" (Sanctissimum), to which may be added the following expressions, and somewhat altered from their primitive meaning: "Agape" (Love-Feast), "Eulogia" (Blessing), "Breaking of Bread", "Synaxis" (Assembly), etc.; but the ancient title "Eucharistia" appearing in writers as early as Ignatius, Justin, and Irenæus, The expression "Blessed Sacrament of the Altar", introduced by Augustine, is at the present day almost entirely restricted to catechetical and popular treatises.

From the earliest ages, the Sacrament of the altar has occupied the central place ages, both in the Divine worship and services of the Church and in the life of faith and devotion of the Faithful.

The Church honours the Eucharist as one of her most exalted mysteries, since for sublimity and incomprehensibility it yields in nothing to the allied mysteries of the Trinity and Incarnation. These three mysteries constitute a wonderful triad, which causes the essential characteristic of Christianity, as a religion of mysteries far transcending the capabilities of reason, to shine forth in all its brilliance and splendor, and elevates Catholicism, the most faithful guardian and keeper of our Christian heritage, to a great height.

Jesus

No one can come to me
unless drawn by the Father
and I will raise that person up on the last day.
It is written in the prophets
They will all be taught by God
everyone who has listened to the Father
and learnt from him
comes to me.
Not that nyone has seen the Father
Except him who has hhis being from God
he has seen the Father.
In all truth I tell you,
Everyone who believes has Eternal Life

I am the Bread of Life
Your fathers at manna in the desert
and they are dead.

But this is the Bread that comes down from heaven
so that a person may eat it and not die.
I am the living Bread who has come down from heaven.
Anyone who eats this Bread will live forever
and tha Bread that I shall give you
is my Flesh 'for the Life of the World'.


Then the Jews started arguing among themselves. How can a man give us his flesh to eat? Jesus said:

In all truth I tell you
If you do not eat(Gk 'gnaw') the Flesh of the Son of Man
and drink his Blood
you have no life in you.
Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood
has eternal life
and I shall raise that person up on the last day.

For my Flesh is Real food
And my Blood is Real drink


Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
lives in me
And I live in that person
.

As the living Father sent me
and I draw life from the Father
so whoever eats me will also draw life from me.


This is the Bread which has come down from heaven
it is not like the Bread our ancestors ate;
They are dead
But anyone who eats this Bread will live forever!

This is what he taught in Capurnaum at the Synagogue
After hearing it, many of his followers said.'This is intolerable language . How can anyone accept it?' Jesus was aware that his followers were complaining about it and said 'Does this disturb you? What if you should see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives Life,your flesh has nothing to offer. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.

B ut there are some of you who do not believe. For Jesus knew from the outset who did not believe and who was to betray him. He went on 'This is why I told you that no one would come to me, schept by gift of the father. After this many of the disciples left him and followed him no more.

Then Jesus said to the Twelve 'What about you, do you want to go away too? Peter answered 'Lord to whom shall we go? You have the message of Eternal Life and we believe. We have come to know that you are the Holy one of God. Jesus replied to them and said 'Did I not choose all twelve of you? Yet one of you is a devil. He meant Jusas who was son of Simon Iscariot, since this was the man of the Twelve who was to betray him.

St John Chapter 6 ve 14-end from New Jerusalem Bible Study Edition

Note

The followers to whom Jesus was speaking were simple folk. They took what he said absolutely literally. They were so disgusted at what they thought was cannibalism and walked off, unable to go there. Jesus could have called them back and said 'Hey, come back, I didn't mean it, it was only a symbolic act, but he did not. It was quite clear what he meant, when he used the Greek word for 'to gnaw, or chew'-translated in English by 'eat'-'The sense is therefore different and Jesus as raised the stakes 'If you do not gnaw on my body and drink my blood'. This is what so dismayed the disciples who left. Peter and the Apostles (bar Judas) trusted him.

Maundy Thursday-Thursday in Holy Week

This was the Passover Feast where Christ instituted this holy Sacrament and ritual which transforms the Bread and Wine into the Flesh and Blood of Christ.The words of consecration are from the Bible.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night that he was betrayed took the bread in his sacred hands and when he had given thanks said:
'Take this all of you and eat it.
THIS IS MY BODY GIVEN UP FOR YOU AND FOR ALL MANKKIND
Do this in remembrance of me.


Then he took the cup and said
'TAKE THIS ALL OF YOU AND DRINK FROM IT'
THIS IS MY BLOOD, THE BLOOD OF THE NEW AND EVERLASTING COVENANT
It will become your spiritual drink.
Do this in remembrance of me.

St. Irenaeus (c.130 - c.200),Thrown to the Lions for his faith.Martyr

All the Early fathers taught by Peter and Paul and the other Apostles believed this, which gives us the link with them right back through time.Google the Early Church fathers and the Eucharist.These were the people Peter and Paul taught.

But vain in every respect are they who despise the entire dispensation of God, and disallow the salvation of the flesh, and treat with contempt its regeneration, maintaining that it is not capable of incorruption.

But if this indeed does not attain salvation, then neither did the Lord redeem us with His blood, nor is the cup of the Eucharist the communion of His blood, nor the bread which we break the communion of His body.
For blood can only come from veins and flesh, and whatsoever else makes up the substance of man, such as the Word of God was actually made. By His own blood he redeemed us, as also His apostle declares, "In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the remission of sins."

And as we are His members, we are also nourished by means of the creation (and He Himself grants the creation to us, for He causes His sun to rise, and sends rain when He wills(3)). He has acknowledged the cup (which is a part of the creation) as His own blood, from which He bedews our blood; and the bread (also a part of the creation) He has established as His own body, from which He gives increase to our bodies.

When, therefore, the mingled cup and the manufactured bread receives the Word of God, and the Eucharist of the blood and the body of Christ is made, from which things the substance of our flesh is increased and supported, how can they affirm that the flesh is incapable of receiving the gift of God, which is life eternal, which [flesh] is nourished from the body and blood of the Lord, and is a member of Him?--even as the blessed Paul declares in his Epistle to the Ephesians, that "we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones."

(6) He does not speak these words of some spiritual and invisible man, for a spirit has not bones nor flesh;but [he refers to] that dispensation [by which the Lord became] an actual man, consisting of flesh, and nerves, and bones,--that [flesh] which is nourished by the cup which is His blood, and receives increase from the bread which is His body.

And just as a cutting from the vine planted in the ground fructifies in its season, or as a corn of wheat falling into the earth and becoming decomposed, rises with manifold increase by the Spirit of God, who contains all things, and then, through the wisdom of God, serves for the use of men, and having received the Word of God, becomes the Eucharist, which is the body and blood of Christ; so also our bodies, being nourished by it, and deposited in the earth, and suffering decomposition there, shall rise at their appointed time, the Word of God granting them resurrection to the glory of God, even the Father, who freely gives to this mortal immortality,


Prayer Requests Today

Please pray for my Friend Pat, recently gone to God. A wonderfully cheerful giver, friend and deeply supportive of all. She will be sadly missed.

Please Pray for my friend Mary-the most wonderful Christian woman now contemplating her own journey to God. Pray for her daughter Eva, another friend and her sister Stella.

Lastly please pray for the McCann family that their daughter will soon be returned.That the Holy Spirit will enter the conscience of the person who has taken her and they do the right thing, especially Kate Mccann's peace of mind.Pray for me and my family if you are able to do so. God Bless! Mary

Friday, May 23, 2008

Arthur, Cado and Saint Carannog and the Dragon

Russian Icon of St Carannog on the Left



After a long time in Ireland, the Irish Saint, Carannog eventually returned to Wales and again occupied, for a short time, the same cave which had formerly been his hermitage. He was joined by a number of brethren, and this may have made him eager to depart for a solitary life elsewhere.He decided to embark on a white martyrdom and make a retreat by travelling down through Wales to the West Country. Like most holy men of the time, Carannog had a small portable stone altar which he used to say mass and to evangelise.

Carannog crosses the Severn (Hafren)

He was going to go off for a retreat and get away from it all. So, desiring to cross the Severn and Bristol Channel to Somerset, he threw this into the sea. When it miraculously floated, he was able to use it as a small boat and pass safely over to the Bristol Area. The Beachley-Aust crossing would seem to have been the best possibility, being the narrowest and shallowest part and at this time, no doubt the Severne (Hafren) would not have been as wide as it is today. There was also a crossing, however from Sudbury to Avonmouth, or somewhere along there. However, somehow the altar and he became separated and Carannog landed near Dindarithou (Dunster), the home of King Cado of Dumnonia, without his altar. He made his way to Carrum (Carhampton) where he made enquiries as to where it had come ashore.

Arthur and the Dragon

Arthur was staying in the region at the time, undertaking the challenge of defeating a ferocious dragon which was ravaging the local countryside. Dragon slaying stories are rife among the early Christian saints and it is important to realise that dragons were a symbol of evil at all times. Christian saints are often to be found taming such ‘dragons’ but it must have been a symbol. In heraldry the dragon is always used to depict a powerful family, and in early terminology a tyrannical and certainly pagan family providing danger to the area, particularly evil tyranny. Such families were a powerful source of evil in early times. Raiding, raping pillaging the reputation of these pockets of evil would spread quickly and Arthur s a sort of champion Christian King would have been called to deal with it, and needed divine intervention to do it, even if he had to force Carannog to help using his closeness to God. The symbol of the dragon was well understood, even in Turkey , where St George took on such a task and there is even a twelfth century tale of St Peter killing a dragon.This would not have been a Druid settlement-most of these had been christianised but this would have been a tyrannical ruler, whom only a greater power could tame, because he was so steeped in evil.(the word ‘serpent’ is also used)

Carannog’s Altar

Arthur’s men had found the altar at the mouth of the River Guellit (Willett) and had tried to use it as a table, but everything that was placed upon it was immediately thrown off. We see here a hard and unsympathetic side to Arthur as he demands payment for the return of the altar. Carannog asked Arthur what should be done. Arthur would have known he had no money and it was just a lever to get him to do what he wanted evangelise and use the power of God on the evil to bring it down.
Arthur said “That thou shouldst lead the serpent that is near thee, and we shall see whether thou art a servant of God.” We are told that the Blessed Carannog went and prayed to the Lord.’ He went close to the ‘dragon’ and raised his hands in prayer to Almighty God calling upon him to help him.

The Miracle- evil is vanquished

The miracle happened the offending ‘serpent’ or evil chieftain came with a ‘great noise running as a calf to its dam as an obedient servant to its master with an humble heart and downcast eyes’.Carannog put his robe around him and led him like a lamb and it did not attempt any way of attacking him. His neck was like that of a bull seven years old, so that the robe could scarcely go round the him.

The Banquet at Cado’s Castle

And they went to see Cado at the Castle and were well received by him. And he brought the perpetrator to the middle of the hall that he might be fed it before all people as he was hungry. They tried to kill it, however, but Carannog would not allow them to do this. He said that he came by the Word of God (Jesus) to crush sinners, who were in Carrun, and for him to show the power of God by it. Afterwards he went out of the gate of the castle and let him go. In its departing he commanded the penitent he should hurt no-one, or return any more as God commanded.

Monastic foundation at Carhampton

When Carannog had the altar back, Arthur admired it and wanted to keep it as a table, but things kept falling off so he realised Carannog, the Irish monk, was very holy. He made over Carrum forever to the saint by written deed and Carannog later built a church there . Later this was a famous monastery which remained there until post reformation times as a ruined chapel in the parish.

A Voice from Heaven

Subsequently a voice came from heaven, telling him to place the altar in the sea and Carannog sent Cado and Arthur to find out what had happened to it and they found out it had landed at Guellit. Cado said I will give twelve hides of land where the altar may be found. Carannog built a church there and the church was called Caron .He was told by God to go into exile and leave his family. He found out that the island was holy and carried the many remains of the saints. He remained there until he died.

Carhampton and Dunster-the site of this story.


Carhampton is located in Somerset, between Watchet and Minehead, one mile from Dunster. It is a small village on the busy A39. The Church in Carhampton is dedicated to St John the Baptist and the one in Dunster is dedicated to St George. According to records there were two churches in Carhampton in 1180 and it is known that annual payment was made to Dunster on the feast of St Carantoc (May 16th) for the two churches in Carhampton.This second church was probably the monastic chapel remains.

The dragon image in Christianity goes to the very source of evil



The dragon image in Christianity goes to the very source of evil and has always been used as such as we have seen above. God can perform miracles, but evil is strong and can also perform miracles to suck people in. From earliest times Christ and the curch he founded on Peter fought a spiritual battle against evil.

The dragon and his influence in the last days. He will empower the antichrist. He will control the world.(So will we let ourselves be microchipped?)

"And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority." (Revelation 13:2)

"And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him." (Revelation 12:9)

And many of them look so menacing; evil; wicked; ungodly; scary, and downright demonic.

The Revelations of St John show the world will be totally deceived by the dragon and the world is obviously getting ready for him now. Never before in the history of mankind has there been so much interest in Satanism; witchcraft; the occult and other daemonic practices.

"And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast..." (Revelation 13:4)

The Bible says that we should be trusting God by faith and not be lured by what we perceive for example in the media according to the Law of God and the Teaching o the Church. Today many professing Christians are going along with damaging spiritual beliefs; following so called prophets that supposedly perform miracles.

God will triumph and his people of Christ will inhabit the New Heaven

"And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years." (Revelation 20:2)

And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. (Revelation 20:10)

Until then however we need to ever be on guard against the sultry soothing lures of of evil and stand fast in the whole armour of God.

"Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." (Ephesians 6:11-12)

How right St Paul was 'Spiritual wickedness in high places'.Read for this recent events in Haut de la Garenne, abduction and murder of children , and all the evil and cruelty in the world stand as testament.

As for the high places, who can support the killing of unborn life and playing God with animal human clones, soothing people with the notion it will lead to a cure for incurable diseases, which is unproven. When people lose their notion of what is right and wrong they are being spiritually weak, offending God. With Christ, however we have hope. We know we don't have to fear what is coming because we know exactly where we are hoping to go, if we walk by Faith Hope and Love.

Madeleine McCann

Irritatingly it seems that there is now to be a delay of 3 months before Gerry and Kate McCann can see the secret files held on Madeleine's case by the Portuguese authorities. This frustrating for them, because Scotland Yard are taking a greater role in checking everything out. You have to wonder at the delay-is there something they don't want the McCanns to know? Is someone being protected? The details were, I understand due to be released on the anniversary of the abduction. Clearly with all the high profile people who have taken an interest in this case, you have to wonder....

Knife Crime and bombs in Exeter and Mary Whitehouse

I noticed there was a programme about Mary Whitehouse on the TV on Wednesday night. The woman needs a medal, as she was , ofr a while able to curb the excesses of TV producers in providing resistance to a salami slicing effect of ever greater leniency culminating in a nine o'clock watershed we have today, which even now broadcasters are pushing against.Many people have completely shut off from bad language and gratuitous sex and buy videos they know they will like. Films without these things, movies with thought behind them and some greater quest still gross more money. I watched the Indiana Jones film yesterday-absolutely cool and brilliant. The two hours flashed by so quickly. We cam out exhilirated and relaxed with the laughter (Spielberg is just so good!) and we went to see Prince Caspian, then found it was not on. Don't believe the critics trying to sell 'hard hitting ground breaking etc etc yawn'Give me Indy any time!!

Children's Commissioner for England has just said that children are being alienated by being stopped and searched. More often than not, police are checking 'imitators'-no the real 'baddies-feral children with dysfunctional familes'who know how to escape. The 'Imitators' are thus left defenceless against the real 'baddies'. Oh dear, why don't they scoop up the feral children and send them to boot camps, which seem to be able to tame the kids by exposing them to the realisties of survival in the desert and such things. Even children like this are a real threat to the comunity, just like the young man in Exeter who converted to Islam and decided this gave him the right to set a bomb in the West Country city of Exeter, sending one young innocent woman to Exeter , where she is fighting for her life.
Prayers for her and Prayers for us and for a young man who believed he had the right to kill.The dragon is around. God save us and bless us.